If you really want to find out which wine you like the best, and how much you are being influenced, perhaps unknowingly, by aspects other than taste, you should arrange to try a selection blind.

The author recently invited a dozen friends and neighbours who all liked and drank the soft Merlot red wines to blind-taste a range of a dozen Merlots, including two blended with Cabernet Sauvignon and Shiraz grapes, priced from £3.49 to £7 a bottle and all bought from very local supermarkets and shops. The reveal was only done after they had scored the wines on a scale of 10 for personal preference so no well-known influences such as the country of origin, the label, the alcohol content, the price paid, the name of the wine or the retailer supplying were in play.

There were two joint winners, an Echo Falls 2012 with an ABV of 13% from California available at Iceland and other retailers at £5 a bottle, and a Yellowtail 2013 with an ABV of 13.5% from Australia and costing £6 a bottle from Asda and others. Ranking second was a Sainsbury’s Winemaker’s Selection 2013 with an ABV of 13% from France and costing £5. And well worth considering at the price was a Budavar Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon blend with an ABV of 12.5% from Spain and costing £3.49 a bottle from Aldi, which was ranked third.

Curiously, or perhaps not for the cynical, none of the three wines carrying the marketing ploy “Reserve” on the label did well, an Asda “Reserva” from Chile at £7 ranking seventh, a Sainsbury’s “Heritage Reserve” from South Africa at £5.90 (down from £7.40) ranking tenth and an Asda “Grand Reserve” from France at £7 ranking eleventh.

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